Monday, November 21, 2011

BIHAR FLOODS WERE CAUSED BY CONTRACTORS’ CORRUPTION, SAYS FORMER NEPALI MINISTER

The 2008 Bihar floods from the river Kosi were caused by the corruption among Bihari contractors, and not because of increase in the volume of water, according to a former Nepali Minister.

Mr. Dipak Gyawali, former Minister of Water Resources, said today that the so-called floods were caused because of the bad construction by the corrupt contractors.

“It was just ordinary garden variety Bihari contractor corruption,” Mr. Gyawali said, delivering a talk on “Water issues between India and Nepal” at Observer Research Foundation, a multi-disciplinary public policy think tank.

Mr. Gyawali, now research director of the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation, said “it was not a flood at all. The river was 40 percent lower in volume than the average for the month.”

“When the river is 40 percent lower in volume, it does not breach because of the water. It breaks out because of the way it has been done – just sand. And this will break again. We have seen the constructions there. It was all sand. Sand embankment with corrupt Bihari contractor.”

Mr. Gyawali said they were expecting breaches this year too. “But luckily it did not happen though the volume of water was high,” he said.

He said breaches of similar magnitude had happened more than 8 times in Nepal, but nobody ever talked about them in India.

Mr. Gyawali described reports about the Bihar floods as “uncomfortable knowledge.”

“This uncomfortable knowledge have to be addressed” to improve India’s relations with Nepal, which he said, was in a bigger mess politically and water resources wise.

Mr. Gyawali stressed the need for revisiting treaties like Mahakali project, saying these projects are “incorrect water resources development”. He pointed out that though, according to the treaty signed in 1996, the detailed project report was to be completed in six months, it is yet to be completed even after 14 years. The project was scheduled to be ready in eight years, producing 6000 MW power, according to the treaty.

Mr. Gyawali said instead of big projects, India and Nepal should focus more on small projects, considering the interests of all the stake holders.

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